The following is a summary of the mechanics of the Board's operation in the sentencing process, after which the policies underlying its decision-making process will be examined. The State of Washington has a modified indeterminate sentence structure. The maximum term for each felony is limited by statute and, if the arrestee is convicted, the court must impose a maximum term within the statutory guidelines. The minimum term is generally fixed by the Board. Neither the court-imposed maximum nor the Board-determined minimum actually indicates the length of time necessarily spent in prison, however, because Washington has a good time law which grants credit for up to one-third the Board-determined minimum sentence for good behavior. The time spent in prison may be even further reduced if the Board lowers the minimum sentence after finding that the person is rehabilitated and fit for release. This conditional release prior to expiration of the court-imposed maximum sentence is termed parole.
George W. Johnson,
The Board of Prison Terms and Paroles: Criteria in Decision Making,
51 Wash. L. Rev.
Available at: https://digitalcommons.law.uw.edu/wlr/vol51/iss3/10